1834 to 1917
South African Methodist evangelist.
Born at Butterworth, Transkei, Pamla had a brief scholastic education at a Dutch school in Nyara and learned the art of public speaking by preaching to trees while herding sheep. He went on to become the first black Methodist superintendent in South Africa and was also appointed as evangelist by the first Methodist conference in 1883. Pamla ministered at Etembeni for nineteen years before retiring in 1913. He had printed at his own expense a booklet on African customs and the Christian faith and also contributed to an indigenous hymnbook. His great contribution to Christian missions was his role in securing over 25,000 conversions. This was achieved largely through the inspiration of American Methodist bishop William Taylor, who visited South Africa in 1866 and conducted evangelistic services; Pamla was his most able translator. Their sermons bore a postmillennial mark, polygamy was condemned, and hearers were urged to seek salvation at the altar. The resulting revival of Christianity occurred during economic deprivation, political instability, and religious uncertainty faced by most black South Africans. Use of the "native agency" (black leadership such as Pamla provided) during the 1866 revival was instrumental in the development of an indigenous Methodist ministry.
Daryl M. Balia
Daryl M. Balia, Black Methodists and White Supremacy in South Africa (1991); Leslie Hewson, Introduction to South African Methodists (1950); Gordon Mears, Methodist Missionaries No. 2 (1958); Joseph Whitside, History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in South Africa (1906)
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.